(This could have also been titled, “Hey, Remember When I Used to Write About Endurance Sports?”)
Part of training for any endurance event is training your brain. You have to train positive self-talk into your brain. Re-program thoughts like, Omigod is that another !#%^ hill? I loathe hills! to something like, Hooray! A hill! I eat hills for breakfast. Bring it on. You also have to train yourself to tolerate a
little lot of pain. Even with ice baths, foam rollers, and rest days, you are still doing things like running… oh… 8, 10, 14, 26.2 miles. Or swimming a couple. Or biking 30, 50… 100 miles. In one day. Sometimes you’re even doing an really long swim, followed by a really long bike, and then a really long run. I’m not even one of the craziest endurance athletes, and I’m training to be able to handle 70.3 miles in one day — a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.
It is easy to see why your brain might have a problem with this.
And so we train. We endure. We foam roll, take ice baths, and sometimes we even limp around a little bit on stiff, tired muscles. We get massages.
But when you’re in a constant state of “kinda sore,” how do you know when you’re hurt and when to keep “Hangin’ Tough?”
My right IT band is pretty darn mad at me. At least I think it’s my IT band, though it doesn’t hurt at my knee, like iliotibial band syndrome usually does. If I’m honest, it’s been kind of bad since the end of my training season for the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. And, of course, I’m not a doctor. But since endurance sports require a lot of mental toughness, I’ve done a really good job convincing myself it’s nothing.
But here’s the truth: I did pretty much nothing in terms of fitness from October 10 (the Chicago Marathon) until January 1 (the day Elizabeth started coaching me towards Steelhead 70.3). I’m pretty sure a simple, typical endurance sports injury would have had plenty of time to heal while I rested for several months.
I’ve been training properly, at the hands of a capable coach.
The nagging pain in my hip has crept back.
So, I did what any sane person would do. I Googled it. Turns out there are lots of things it could be besides IT band issues.
So where do you draw the line? When do you tough it out with ice and rest, and when is it time to head to the doctor? When do you stop hangin’ tough?